Werner: I ask, “What suits him?” as opposed to what suits me. An instructor projects his or her personal beliefs, in spite of the fact that the student simply is not the same person as the instructor.
eJournal: That takes a good deal of open mindedness to apply. With the prominence of semi-auto pistols, I expect there is a good deal of open-mindedness influencing your development into the Snubby Guru, too. How did you develop that part of your repertoire?
Werner: That was an outgrowth of the non-permissive environment, too. When I was in college, I was a security guard. I came into work one Sunday, and there was a note in the guard’s log to be on the look out for a 6’4”, 250-pound man who had assaulted one of the building’s tenants and threatened to come back. At the time, I weighed about 150 pounds, and I said, “Yeah, that is going to work out really well, if he comes back,” because we worked unarmed.
The only gun I owned at the time was a Charter Arms .44 Bulldog that I’d bought more or less on a lark, but I realized, “This fits in my pocket,” so the next day when I came into work I had it in my pocket. I was not allowed to do that–it was a non-permissive environment–but I realized that I had to have something that I could work with.
At that time, 30 years ago, the snub-nosed revolver was far more reliable than anything else available as a pocket pistol. For me, reliability is a very high factor in choosing a firearm for self defense, so that got me started on it. Because I was carrying it all the time, even when I got into the commercial real estate business, I said, I don’t like to have weapons that I can’t use well, so I started working a lot with snubbies and shooting them a lot. Several years ago, I said, let’s see how far I can take this, and I started shooting IDPA with a six-shot snub.
eJournal: And you do not mean in the BUG (back-up gun) division, either!
Werner: No, I shoot in Stock Service Revolver division with snubby revolvers and I have won six sanctioned matches using a snub, sometimes against fairly seasoned competitors. It disproved to me many myths, like the one that says the sight radius is too short. No, that is just because you haven’t practiced enough.
eJournal: Just proves how much of the equation is weighted toward the operator’s skills. That brings us back to your premise that the software is always more important than the hardware. I’d like to explore how you teach mindset to students who are new to self defense. We’re often urged to be a warrior, but you said your students don’t watch action movies and don’t want to be like the lead from Die Hard. Without telling them to be warriors, how do you cultivate a willingness to defend themselves decisively?
Werner: Many years ago, in his early writing career, Massad Ayoob posed a question to a woman who said she could never shoot someone. He asked, “What are you willing to do to prevent your children from becoming orphans? Who in this world is better prepared and more willing to raise your children than you?” I thought that was a brilliant way of putting it. When I have students who don’t have the warrior’s mindset, I point out to them the value that they have to their friends and their family.
A few years ago, before my father passed he was quite infirm, and I realized that if I was to die, and especially if I was to be killed, he would probably die as a result of it. Although I do have the warrior’s mindset, if I didn’t, I would say, “I am not willing to die, if for no reason than to spare my father the agony of having to bury one of his children.”
This is another of those points, to which I see people cock their head a little, then they say, “You know? I never thought about it like that.” I think for us to influence not only the people who have purchased guns but the ones who are thinking about it, we need to understand that sometimes people just need a little help. I remember when I was in the Army, we used to do a drill where one of us would provide just the slightest assistance for another guy to do pull-ups. I remember how many more repetitions you could do with just the slightest bit of assistance. In some cases, it was 50% more! Similarly, for us as instructors, that’s what we need to do for people who are on the fence.
Frankly, I do not proselytize and I don’t tell people, “You’ve got to have a gun,” because I consider that a very personal decision, but for people who are thinking about it and are on the fence, we can say, “Is this something you have thought about?